This essay proposes a set of terms for considering serial narratives across media, by focusing on the defining quality of seriality: the rhythmic, compositional, and sequential relationship between one object and a subsequent, apparently similar object. The six terms—iteration, multiplicity, momentum, world-building, personnel, and design—address the methods by which serial installments relate to one another, and build stories, environments, and expectations over time. These elements operate not as necessities but as options for enunciating the structures and experiences that serials provide for their audiences; some serials may choose to minimize or work against these elements. Drawing on examples from television, the novel, cinema, podcasts, and comics, the argument makes a case for the centrality of a collection of characteristics that together articulate the narrative strategies that installment-publication continues to privilege. Serials that resist these six elements most persistently represent examples of "minimalist seriality"; serials that embrace them most robustly represent examples of "maximalist seriality." The essay concludes with the broader claim that all serials, whatever their era or context, essentially contain both "Victorian" and "Modernist" energies—the interplay between a sustained, immersive, imaginative investment and the interruptive, fragmented effect of distinct installments.


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pp. 49-64
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